An old Taoist story goes like this:
An old Chinese farmer had worked his crops for many years. One day his only horse broke through the fence and ran away. When his neighbors learned of it, they came to the farmer and said, “What bad luck this is. You don’t have a horse during planting season.” The farmer listened and then replied, “Good luck, bad luck. Who knows?”
A few days later, the horse returned with two other horses. When the neighbors learned of it, they visited the farmer. “You are now a rich man. What good luck this is,” they said. The farmer listened and again replied, “Good luck, bad luck. Who knows?”
Later that day, the farmer’s only son was thrown from one of the stallions and broke his leg. When the neighbors heard about it, they came to the farmer. “It is planting season and now there is no one to help you,” they said. “This is truly bad luck.” The farmer listened, and once more he said, “Good luck, bad luck. Who knows?”
The very next day, the emperor’s army rode into the town and conscripted the eldest son in every family. Only the farmer’s son with his broken leg remained behind. Soon the neighbors arrived. Tearfully, they said, “Yours is the only son who was not taken from his family and sent to war. What good luck this is…” to which the farmer replied “Good luck, bad luck. Who knows?